The Iraqi army’s success in recapturing Mosul will be followed by an extensive security and intelligence operation to detect and catch the remnants of Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group in the strategic northern city, a top commander serving at the Iraqi volunteer forces said.
In an interview with the Tasnim News Agency, Abu Ala al-Welayi, commander of Sayyid al-Shohada Battalions, a main wing of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units or Hashid al-Shaabi, said the success in the military operation to recapture Mosul was achieved under the wise guidance of the country’s religious authorities.
On Thursday, after eight months of difficult urban warfare, the Iraqi military liberated the Mosul mosque at the heart of the northern city, which Daesh had declared its de facto capital.
Daesh militants made swift advances in northern and western Iraq over the summer of 2014, after capturing swaths of northern Syria. Afterwards, a combination of concentrated attacks by the Iraqi military and the volunteer forces, who rushed to take arms after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling for the fight against the militants, blunted the edge of Daesh offensive and forced the terrorist group withdraw from much of the areas it had occupied.
Elsewhere in his comments, Welayi said the next step that Hashid al-Shaabi forces are going to take after liberation of Mosul will be a broad intelligence and security operation.
“A security operation is much more difficult and complicated than a military operation, because Daesh terrorists have a lot of experience in security activities,” he noted.
The terrorists taken captive in the war in Mosul have confessed that more than 20,000 Daesh militants were present in the city, including 3,000 foreigners, the commander said.
Welayi went on to say that around 5,000 members of Daesh have been killed in the military operation to retake Mosul, while some 10,000 others are estimated to have fled the city.
Accordingly, it is estimated that there are around 5,000 Daesh terrorists hiding among people in Mosul and waiting for an opportunity to be remobilized, he warned.
The large-scale security operation in Mosul could last for up to three years, the commander added, warning that the terrorists may resort to attacks on civilians in revenge for their defeat in Mosul.
There are currently 450 Daesh terrorists surrounded in a small part of Mosul’s old city, Welayi noted, expecting that the complete cleanup of terrorists from the city would be announced within the next 72 hours.